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Review: Immortals (2011)

Immortals (2011)

Directed by: Tarsem Singh

Premise: A retelling of Greek mythology. Greek warrior Theseus (Henry Cavill) leads the fight against an invasion by King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), who seeks of a magical bow that will unleash the Titans.

What Works: The one bright spot to Immortals is Mickey Rourke as Hyperion. Rourke’s size and gravity perks up what is otherwise a dull film.

What Doesn’t: The quality of fantasy films has ranged widely over the past few years but Immortals must rank among the dregs of this genre. It really is an incompetently made film at every level. To appreciate the severity of the problems with this film it is helpful to compare Immortals to 300; although the 2006 film was deeply flawed, 300 did have a concrete conflict between a discernable protagonist and antagonist, it had a likable and empathetic lead character played by Gerard Butler, and its action scenes were well choreographed and artfully shot. Immortals has none of that. This film starts by introducing Theseus, a hero who is a great warrior from the moment the audience first meets him. This gets the story off on the wrong foot; Theseus has nothing to learn about himself or about the world; he is already at the peak of his development, just waiting for destiny and the screenplay to put him in his rightful place. It’s almost too much to say that he is the same character at the end of the story that he is at the beginning because at no point in Immortals is he, or anyone else, a full-fledged character. Characters are defined by personalities and choices and Theseus has no personality and never in the film does he make one substantive choice. Instead Immortals thrusts its hero into battle after battle although it is never clear who he is fighting or what he is fighting for. In between the battles, Immortals sends its hero on a quest to find a magic bow but here too the film fails to provide motivation or purpose. It’s unclear why Theseus must find this bow before Hyperion does and the story gets distracted by its own lack of focus and sends Theseus and his allies on other mini-adventures that have nothing to do with the task at hand. By the climax, Hyperion gets the bow anyway and nothing really happens when he does, meaning that Immortals could have dumped the first two thirds of the film without affecting the outcome of the story. Aside from the character and plot problems, Immortals is a horribly shot and edited film. The fights have no momentum or proper staging; they are just a collection of swords, shields, and limbs colliding into one another for minutes on end and when each fight is over nothing has been won or lost because nothing meaningful is ever at stake. This film is similarly awful in its design. The costumes look like they were designed for a Lady Gaga concert and the sets look like leftovers from Labyrinth. And that is the sum of this film: it has performers dressed in ridiculous costumes swinging swords at each other for no reason against a generic background.

Bottom Line: Immortals may go down as one of the worst big budget fantasy films ever made. Despite the effort to cram this film full of action it is quite boring because everything in it is digital or plastic and at no point can a viewer care about anything going on in the frame. 

Episode: #365 (November 20, 2011)